What is Direct Routing? An Introductory Guide

What is Direct Routing? An Introductory Guide

Direct Routing is a term gaining a significant amount of attention in today’s age of hybrid work and digital transformation – but there are still countless companies who don’t fully understand it. The concept of Direct Routing is usually directly connected to Microsoft Teams, one of the most popular collaboration and UCaaS tools on the market today.

As of January 2022, Microsoft Teams had an incredible 270 million daily active users worldwide. Making it one of the fastest-growing Microsoft applications of all time. While Teams might have started life as a replacement for Microsoft’s “Skype for Business” app, it quickly involved into an ecosystem of its own, achieving a leadership position in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for UCaaS, and creating a brand-new business avenue for Microsoft.

Part of what made Microsoft Teams such a phenomenal success, is the approach the company took to infusing teams with communication technology. Unlike most UCaaS vendors, Microsoft both offered companies an option to buy telecommunications functionality through the Microsoft brand, and through external vendors, with direct routing.

Here’s your guide to Direct Routing, and what it can do.

What is Direct Routing? An Introduction

Direct Routing is the alternative option to a Microsoft Business Phone plan for connecting telephony capabilities to the Microsoft ecosystem. The solution offers a “BYOC”, or “Bring Your Own Carrier” approach to communications, allowing companies to bring their existing telephony contracts into Microsoft Teams with them, or choose from a range of Microsoft direct routing partners.

Direct Routing is the process of routing Microsoft Teams as an app, to your Public Switched Telephone Network, or PSTN. This transforms Teams from a tool exclusively for internal communications, into a fully-fledge business phone system (PBX).

With Direct Routing, you can call anyone, just like you would through a standard UCaaS or PBX service. More importantly, this service ensure you don’t have to rely on Microsoft as your only option for phone service. After all, while Microsoft can be a powerful provider, the company doesn’t have the same background in the communications industry as many direct routing partners.

Direct routing not only allows you to link your existing telephony solution, or the telephony service of your choice to Teams, it also allows for the integration of various other crucial communication functions, like access to Session Border Controllers, call recording, and contact centre functionality.

Direct routing works by combining your Teams system to the PSTN using “SIP Trunks” and “SBCs”. The Session Border Controller creates borders between different networks in your business environment to ensure data is transferred securely between them. The SIP trunks, on the other hand, form the connection between your business phone system, the PSTN, and the internet.

What are the Benefits of Direct Routing?

Compared to Microsoft’s calling plans, direct routing offers a much more comprehensive and advanced solution for communication. The Microsoft Calling plans are often considered to be relatively basic, and they’re also only available for a handful of locations.

Direct routing allows you to connect Teams to any telephony provider you choose, without any restrictions. Depending on the partner you choose, you can access full specialist support to help you make the most of your new business telephony ecosystem, and even port numbers form your existing carrier into your new environment.

Direct routing is widely considered to be an attractive option for a wide variety of businesses looking to take full advantage of the Microsoft landscape within their UCaaS strategy. You get the true flexibility of Teams, while still being able to access your own telephony provider. According to Microsoft, in 2020 alone, the number of calling minutes issued through direct routing increased by 8 times, and more than 4 times as many companies also signed up with direct routing partners. Just some of the major benefits of direct routing include:

  • Flexibility: With direct routing, you have complete control over the phone numbers you want to use, the telephony service provider you’re working with, and even the various unique features you want to access with your UCaaS ecosystem.
  • Reach: While the reach of Microsoft Teams’ calling plans is growing all the time, you can generally get access to more locations with a Microsoft Teams direct routing provider. You’ll also be able to leverage more specialist routing solutions with your provider.
  • Savings: Microsoft’s own calling plans can be quite expensive, and they mean you can no longer take advantage of the deals and savings you’ve been offered by your existing telephony company. You might be able to save more cash with direct routing.

Notably, however, direct routing can be complicated without the right support. Implementing your direct routing strategy means setting up specific SIP trunks and SBC systems, which can take a lot of time. You’ll need a vendor who knows how to navigate PowerShell and Teams.

Who Needs Direct Routing?

Direct Routing is widely regarded one of the best solutions for companies who want to set Teams up as the central hub of their communication strategy. If you’re already using Teams on a daily basis, and want to ensure you can make external calls, as well as hosting internal meetings, direct routing could be a great choice. One report found around 70% of the organisations planning on making the transition to Microsoft Teams as a UCaaS vendor wanted to use direct routing.

With direct routing, you can preserve relationships you have with your existing telephony provider, or build a more customized communication solution from scratch. While Microsoft Teams won’t be the right solution for everyone, it’s often considered the top choice if you’re looking for vast global coverage, combined with flexible features, and more cost saving opportunities.

If direct routing seems too complicated, you can always consider the other “bring your own carrier” solution from Teams instead. Operator Connect gives you most of the benefits of direct routing, while also ensuring you can control all of your PTSN services and needs from a single administrative environment within the Teams app.

Want to find out more about UCaaS with Teams? Contact us today.

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